I think I’ve mentioned before that at some point I became overwhelmed with this weird THING that compelled me to sign up for a committee in the name of bettering our schools.
(Oh… right. I think that THING may be “a sense of parental and civic responsibility,” but on the other hand, maybe it’s just a mild case of Athlete’s Foot, because it’s sort of itchy.)
On the one hand, I know it’s tiresome to keep up with the “OMG! WTF is the matter with the schools here?” routine, because I’ve done it before, for one thing, and also, HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE? On the other hand, every time I sort of comfort myself with the sense that really, things are improving ’round here and wow, look at the neat stuff the kids are bringing home, something else happens and I find myself saying “OMG! WTF is the matter with the schools here??”
[Keep in mind that all of this is aside from the stuff Monkey comes home and tells me about his teacher, she-who-needs-to-retire. Yesterday he reported that she told a child that she wanted said child out of her class (second grade, people) and also that said child was unlikely to be promoted to third grade. Nice of her to say, and particularly charming of her to say in front of the other students, no? Argh.]
Anyway. So I’m on this committee. And we have meetings.
We have loooooooooong meetings.
We look at ISSUES and we DISCUSS things and then sometimes we make RECOMMENDATIONS. It all sounds very nice. In reality, I fear that we represent a small subset of the students, plus it doesn’t appear that the school board actually listens to us very often, but we certainly TRY to address all sorts of issues for everyone involved.
Many of the people on the committee have been doing it for years, and most of them know each other. I don’t really know anyone on the committee, and I always seem to end up sitting at the end of one of the tables, doodling in the margins of my agenda and feeling very much like I am back in 10th grade trigonometry; it’s not that I’m not interested, exactly, it’s that I doubt my ability to really participate meaningfully.
Anyway. So at this meeting last night, we went over a number of issues, and then there was a presentation on what has (apparently) been an ongoing investigation into a new Sex Ed agenda for the schools. From what I was able to gather, this has been a long project, and there were committees (of course! must have committees!) and there were student representatives involved as well, and the upshot is that they have approved the implementation of a new curriculum that is more integrated and ongoing (age-appropriate education at every level, etc.), and it sounds like there is just one step remaining—the approval of specific curriculum materials.
From the way this was presented, it sounded to me like this was exactly the results for which everyone had been hoping. It also, quite frankly, sounded like the curriculum they’re pushing is extremely comprehensive and the student reps thought it was great.
We were about to move on when someone raised their hand and started speaking.
I didn’t catch everything he said—he was sitting about as far away from me as possible, the way we were all configured in the room—but he said something that sounded like this: “Blah blah blah blah abstinence blah blah abstinence blah blah blah ABSTINENCE!”
Turned out that he thought this would be a good time and place to assert that teaching our teen-pregnancy-riddled county anything about birth control was A BAD IDEA. Because we should ONLY talk about abstinence, as that’s the way and the truth and the light.
Now, I doubt it comes as a huge shock that I believe in rigorous sexual eduction for our children regardless of your personal morals and beliefs, but beyond my personal stance on the matter, I just found this an odd time to suddenly get all up in a snit on the issue. I stopped doodling long enough to behold my fellow gape-mouthed committee members.
What transpired next was a little argument between Mr. Abstinence and the person who’d reported on the project status. She let him rant for a while, then gently pointed out that studies show that abstinence-only education does not, in fact, lower the incidence of teens engaging in sexual behavior, at which point Mr. Abstinence shot back, “Have you read those studies? Really studied the statistics?”
“Well, no, I haven’t…” she admitted.
“Well I have,” he snapped. “I’ve read those studies. I know the statistics, and how they twist them around. I’ve studied it!”
At which point I looked over at Mr. Abstinence and saw Tom Cruise’s leering face floating over his own, deja vu overpowering me. I stifled a giggle. And felt very sad that I didn’t know anyone there well enough to ask them if they were having a trippy Tom-Cruise-flashback experience, as well.
Later in the meeting, we were discussing something else that’s been going on, and it was finally decided that our group should draft a letter to the school board to address this issue. “Is there anyone here who’d like to take a stab at the draft? Anyone who’s good with letter-writing?” asked our chair.
I sighed and raised my hand. “I’ll do it.”
Hey, it’s writing. You know, with the words. And stuff. I can do that, right?
Here’s what I have so far:
Dear School Board:
It has come to our attention that you appear to have your heads stuck pretty far up your asses. Is there some way in which we as a committee can assist you with an expedient extraction? You know, before the torch-waving mob reaches your doors?
You know, I’m starting to think there’s a reason I work at home, alone, most of the time.